Cross the border from Portugal by the great Douro River and it becomes in Spain the Duero. On the banks of the Duero – ‘Ribero’ – lies the highly accredited wine region of Ribero del Duero. We are on a plateau 846m (2775ft) above sea level, 70 miles in length and situated about 2 hours north of Madrid and 60 miles to the southwest of Rioja. Valladolid is the regional capital.
Wine has been produced along the broad Duero valley for centuries. With the high and varying altitudes comes lots of sun, semi arid conditions and massive day/night temperature swings, sometimes as much as 50° – in other words quite a harsh climate. Nevertheless these could be described as top conditions for the Tempranillo grape, locally known as Tinto Fino and Tinta des País. This then produces red wines of immense concentration, colour and fruit and may be said to be quite different from those of Rioja to the north.
The area is best known from early days as the home of the iconic landmark Vega Sicilia wines. However, from the 1990’s when vineyards were few and far between, there has been a huge expansion to at least 300 producers today – although it must be said individual vineyard sizes are small. Altogether 56,000 acres (22,000 hectares) are under vine production.
Old traditions and new technology go hand in hand in producing a very fine product from the Ribero del Duero; its reputation for stylish and well-structured wines equal to that of its more familiar neighbours.